Is it worth our time trying to reason with the emotionally minded people that are religious?

By Philip Sober


I'm an atheist and have been out spoken about it and heard all the nonsense regarding that fact by the religious, such as, I'm a fundie atheist or atheism is my religion, etc... but lately I've questioned my own tactics. What i mean by that is this, as an atheist, I'm also fairly scientific minded, for an uneducated layman that is.


I've come to the rational belief, in the philosophy of bio/environmental determinism. Now with this belief system I've come to the hypothesis that perhaps there are two types of thinkers, ones that are biologically determined by brain matter, logically minded and the emotionally minded. And that while there are some logically minded people that have been brought up in religion (myself included) they generally find there way to a more rational view of life.


Is it worth our time trying to reason with the emotionally minded people that are religious? We find it frustrating beyond belief trying to understand why anyone would believe in such Woo Who Bullshit and in the same way they will never be able to follow the rational, logical road to atheism. Their brains are biologically incapable of working in the mind set of reason and logic to such a degree that is necessary to follow such a path as their emotional part of their brain keeps canceling out that rational path.


I'm not saying they are incapable of all reason, just not to the ability that say "we" are. That being the reason it is that most of the scientific community and higher educated people are atheistic or non-religious. It's not that education causes the lack of belief but that the brain function of these people that leads them to more rationally minded fields, is also the same that leads one to atheism.

Views: 75

Comment by AntiChristianLeague on June 9, 2011 at 5:06pm

I would be curious to see what scientific literature there is to back up your hypothesis.


In an argument, one has to be able to mold their statements in such a way as to fit the personality of their opponent. It is the same in sales. If the person is logically minded, then state your claim and show them the facts. For the emotionally minded, use your knowledge to make an appeal to their emotion. And so on, with your 'strategy' modified depending on the situation and whomever you are speaking with.


Whether or not certain people are worth arguing with is a matter of subjective opinion.

Comment by Raven on June 9, 2011 at 5:09pm
I agree with AntiChristianLeague. I would like to see something to back up your claim. Saying people's brains work differently is not something you can really say without proof.
Comment by oneinfinity on June 9, 2011 at 9:42pm

While it doesn't break people down into logical vs emotional, there is the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. I can't say I have expert understanding of the theory, and also note that there are criticisms of the theory (which are noted on that Wikipedia link), but it is used in teaching pedagogy. I had sections on it both in classes to teach ESL and in courses I was taking to get secondary school teaching certification. Basically the theory just outlines 8 (or 9) different "kinds" of intelligence: Spatial, Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalistic, (and Existential.) Of course, each person is a mix of all these but will generally have a proclivity towards one or two in particular, and this is supposed to indicate what their best mode of learning will then be. My two highest are Intrapersonal (Interpersonal is extroverted and Intrapersonal is introverted) and Logical-Mathematical. There are online tests like this one, but who's to say how accurate or useful they are, but fun.


I tend to think that, barring an actual brain condition making reason difficult or impossible for an individual, that the problem is not that people are just physiologically wired in such a way that makes some them predisposed to have irrational beliefs and others to be natural born philosophers (though I would say this is probably to some extent the case), I sincerely believe it's more of a crisis of education. People just aren't taught how to THINK. They're never exposed to the rules of logic, or the concept of critical thinking. They've had minimal or no exposure to the history of ideas, the methods of philosophical inquiry, or have ever been taught how the scientific method actually works. They've never been seriously challenged to rationally defend their opinions and beliefs.


So I'm not sure I agree with the assertion in the OP that it's "the brain function of these people that leads them to more rationally minded fields, [and] is also the same that leads one to atheism." Or I should say, I partially agree in that I think this only tells part of the story. There are so many other factors that contribute to an individuals developing interests and the path they follow in life. Although, in all fairness, i do have to note again that according to the multiple intelligences test, i score high in the logical-mathematically category!



Comment by oneinfinity on June 10, 2011 at 3:06pm
Ah, but sir! I think that your strategy is definitely reasoning. The only way the seed of doubt planted by that question can bear fruit is if the question activates the reasoning function in the mind of the plantee.


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